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Friday Favorites – Love, Laughter and Writing

I found so many great blog posts this week via Twitter, I don’t know how I found time to write. I found myself laughing a good deal this week, which was much needed since I chaperoned two separate field trips on back-to-back days.

Love–

Moriah Densley has a post on the modern gentleman. I’ve never thought much about it, but there is something to be said for a man who acts with manners. Some of the things she mentions, I don’t take notice of, but the sight of a big, strong man holding a baby? Totally hot.

Over on 400 days ’til 40, there’s an awesome post on love vs. lust. Part of what I love about being a romance author is the rush of new love. By the end of the story, readers have to believe that the characters will survive together beyond the newness of lust. The post points out that it’s in times of hardship that a relationship is tested. Excellent points.

Writing–

Kat Latham has an interview with one of my favorite authors, Louisa Edwards. I love Louisa’s books. I haven’t yet read her current book because when I met Louisa at RT last month, she said it was a cry book. Although I really want to read it, I need to be in the mood for crying.

Merry Farmer has a post on how difficult it is to come up with a good title. As much as we’re all told not to judge a book by its cover, the title is our first impression of a book. I, too, suck at titles. When I’m working on a WIP, the file is saved under the heroine’s name. The book that Kensington will be publishing later this year went through 3 titles with me, and then my editor said it would change again. I was totally okay with that because as I said, I suck at titles. We finally did come up with a new title. I’m excited to say my debut release will be called MORE THAN THIS.

400 days ’til 40 also had a post this week on ebooks. I’m a pretty new convert to ebooks. I bought a Kindle last summer and began reading ebooks because I saw a huge market there and so many books sounded interesting and I wanted to read them. Now, of course, being an ebook author, I’m even more invested.

Jenny Hansen had Margie Lawson do another guest post, this time on using humor in your writing. Really, you can’t go wrong with a post on Margie. Every time I take a class with her, or read a post, I learn something new.

Laughter –

On feeling old. Over on Buzzfeed, there’s a list of 48 things that will make you feel old. Admittedly, most of the items did make me feel old.

Then, on Limecello’s blog, Carolyn Crane wrote about pop culture references and why so many of them won’t work. (They’re too old)

And finally, this brief article about Will Smith’s visit to the White House, made me smile. Will’s son Jaden really wanted to ask Obama about the existence of aliens. Will told him absolutely not. Jaden’s response? How much trouble will I get in for asking? That’s the kind of response I’d get from my kids. They’re all about weighing weather the crime is worth the punishment.

Do you read ebooks? Or do you still only hold paper? What would make you switch?

Friday Favorites – the Short Edition

So it’s still spring break here. Spring break + 3 kids = no extra time for Shannyn. I did manage to comb the web for my favorite posts for the week, but there’s not as many as usual.

TV:

Tiffany White writes about Missing with Ashley Judd. I’ve watched the first couple of episodes (although I didn’t get to watch last night’s yet) and I like it. No, it’s not super realistic, so if you’re looking for that, this show probably won’t work for you. I think I mostly watch because I like Ashley Judd.

I have 2 posts about Once Upon a Time. This isn’t a show I watch because although it looks interesting now, when it first aired, I wasn’t sure. I saw trailers for both this and Grimm and both air at earlier times than I usually watch TV, so it kind of slipped my mind to set a timer to record. After people starting talking about it, it felt too late to start, but I might play catch up at some point. What fascinates me, especially as a romance writer, is the idea of infidelity as part of the fairy tale.

Jennifer Hale wrote a post last month about Prince Charming being “just a little bit married.”

And Emma Burcart wrote this week about how Prince Charming is “kind of a jerk.”

These posts alone make me want to catch up on the show.

Adam Bellotto does a great roundup of this week’s episode of Justified.

Writing:

The Romance Man has an excellent post about why he loves romance heroines. They all have a special quality of strength that he can respect. (gotta love a man who reads romance and isn’t afraid to talk about it)

Merry Farmer wrote this week about writing love scenes. As an author who does have sex scenes in her book, I liked that Merry tackled this topic. I haven’t found love scenes difficult to write, but I have found that the scenes have varied greatly depending on the characters. In my book releasing later this year, the sex scenes are pretty explicit. In the book I’m revising, my critique partner was shocked because I barely followed my characters into the bedroom. For me, it was about importance. For my heroine, Quinn, having sex with Ryan (especially the first time) is a big deal for her. She doesn’t jump into bed easily. For Indy, however, sex isn’t as much of an issue, so I wrote less.

Chuck Wendig has another of his fabulous lists of 25 things. This week — 25 lies writers tell themselves.

Photomontage to Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just for fun:

You know last week, I put out a call for you to help Renee Schuls-Jacobson by voting for Ferris Bueller. I’m back again because Ferris needs saving from Westley. Go read Renee’s reasons for voting for Ferris.

Hope you all have a great weekend. I’m off to go see Mirror, Mirror with the girls.

Friday Favorites – Yoda, Ferris, & Writing

After more than a week of fabulous warmer than normal weather here in Chicago, it’s a rainy, miserable day. But, I do have some great posts for you to click through:

Fun Stuff:

taken from Google images

Marcy Kennedy writes about how Yoda was wrong. Now, I’ve mentioned before how Yoda is huge at our house, so my gut wanted to scream, “Never!” but then I read the post. Marcy is referring to Yoda’s famous quote, “Do or do not. There is no try.” This is something I’ve often quoted to my children (and they have of course spit back at me). Marcy points out that trying isn’t always enough. While she has very valid points, I think I’ll stick to the spirit of what Yoda teaches because I believe perseverance can take you pretty far.

It’s March madness all over this time of year, and it’s not all about basketball. Dabwaha is run by Dear Author and Smart Bitches an is all about books. March Movie Madness (MMM) is all about pitting movies heroes against one another.

Renee Schuls-Jacobson makes a plea for Ferris Bueller. Not only do I love this movie and Ferris, but I even have it in my book that’s coming out later this year. Even if you’re not voting, check out all the reasons she loves Ferris.

Photomontage to Ferris Bueller's Day Off (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Tiffany White has a great round-up of midseason replacement shows. Check them out.

The Romance Man has a ton of fun with his post Chicks with Dicks (no, not that kind). He’s talking about why girls fall for guys who treat them like shit. The post is great, but you also have to read the comments. You’ll have plenty of laughs. As a girl who fell for many assholes, I can’t explain it. It’s not that I didn’t date any nice guys; there were a few. One guy I broke up with because he was so nice. What did I know? I was 16. I still know this guy and I also know that I wasn’t ready for him at 16. If I had met him when I was 30 and looking to settle down, I totally would’ve snapped him up.

Writing Links:

I have two different posts about the rules of romance. Both are interesting, especially if you read through the comments.

Greta van der Rol normally doesn’t write romance and she’s struggling with some of the “rules.”

Merry Farmer lists some of the expected rules of the romance genre, but points out that rules can be broken.

Jenny Hansen invited Margie Lawson to write a guest post for her blog. Margie is great. If you’ve never taken a class with her, I urge you to do so. You will learn so much from both Margie and your classmates. Your writing will improve and you’ll learn skills to carry into your next MS. In this post, Margie talks about writing smiles fresh and new.

Shelli Johnson has a post about how to know if you’re stretching yourself as a writer. She suggests that when you feel like you’re in over your head, it’s a good thing.

Jody Hedlund writes about why it’s important to put our books to bed. It’s important to give ourselves breathing room after we finish writing so we can look at the book with fresh eyes. A lot of people will attempt to plow through without giving themselves a break when they go from first to final draft. The problem with that is that you’re too close to the book and you can’t see problems.

Kvetch Mom, Jennifer Liberts Weinberg, writes about the importance of having a writer’s group. I personally wouldn’t want to have to start one, but I’m lucky enough to belong to my local RWA chapter. It’s not just about finding people to critique your work, but about finding like-minded people who can understand you. My group is a critique chapter. Someone reads for critique at every single meeting. I haven’t read in over 2 years, but I still get so much out of going. It’s a group of friends who understand the process and frustrations of being a writer.

Emma Burcart had a revelation that the bathroom is her think tank. It’s a good about when and where we have time to let our stories develop. I’m like Emma, shower time is my plotting time (and I use the word plotting very loosely). It’s the one time and place where I’m least likely to get interrupted by the kids.

Finally, Jenny Hansen offers some great advice on getting organized as a blogger.

Have a great weekend and I hope your weather is better than what I’m looking at.

Friday Favorites – Playing Catch Up

If you follow me on Twitter, you know that I was pretty much out of commission for the end of last week. First I had a migraine from Wednesday until Friday, then I was feeling sickish starting on Saturday. Turned out to be allergies with a sinus headache, but it took me a couple of days to figure that out since I don’t normally suffer from allergies. Anyway, that was 5 days gone from my life. Because of this, I’ve been trying to play catch up all week.

And it’s been a great couple of weeks in the blogosphere. So many blogs, so little time. A fair warning, quite a few of the links this week go to some lengthy posts, but they are well worth the time investment.

First, unless you’ve been living in a bubble, I’m sure you’ve heard about 50 Shades of Grey, a book that started as fan fiction based on Twilight. It is erotic romance and was just picked up in a huge deal.

I have not read any of the books in the trilogy, so I can’t comment on that, but I have links that highlight some of the issues at play:

First up, Jane over at Dear Author did a comparison of the current book with the original. The reason she did this was because the author claimed that although the book started as fan fiction, it is currently an original work. All I’ve got to say on that is if a student turned this in as an original work, he or she would fail.

Next, Jami Gold questions whether quality editing is valued by anyone, and she uses this book as a point of reference.

Carly Phillips discusses the book here. She actually read the entire trilogy and the comments in the post are interesting.

And finally, and I believe most importantly, Smart Bitch Sarah writes about romance, porn, and condescension. No one defends romance quite like Sarah.

TV stuff:

I’ve talked about how much I love Justified, and on his blog Eat, Sleep, Television, Adam Bellotto does a great recap of this week’s episode. As he says, this episode wasn’t so much about moving the plot forward as wrapping up loose ends. Take a peek around his site for recaps of other shows. I don’t watch all of them, but he does a good summary.

Last week Tiffany White asked readers to vote on which shows they would watch if they could only watch one TV show per night (horrible thought). This week, she posts the results.

Emmie Mears has been running a series of cookie dough posts talking about relationships in Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I didn’t watch the show when it originally aired, but after hearing so many people praise it, I watched some, but not all the episodes. I definitely see the appeal, but I never really understood the whole Buffy-Spike thing. In her last post, Emmie dissects that relationship and it makes a whole lot more sense now.

Dating and Love:

Even though I’m married and have been out of the dating scene longer than I was ever in it, as a romance writer, I try to read about others’ experiences because that’s what I write. As a woman, I know that if my husband and I ever split, I have no intention of ever looking to get into a new relationship. I don’t have the energy or patience to deal with the junk. But as a writer, I’m fascinated by it.

Merry Farmer has a great post asking where all the good guys have gone. She links to the original article that points to some of the problems and you should really read both. After reading both the article and Merry’s post, I’ve reaffirmed my gratitude that I don’t have to worry about dating. I’ve also realized that I am dead on in how hard I push my kids to be independent. I have 3 kids, none are teenagers yet. They all know they are expected to go to college and earn a degree and they also know that if they want to continue to live in my house they either have a job or they’re in school. When school is done, if they want to live here, they pay rent. It’s not that I need their money. I need them to be independent. To find their own way. I did it as a necessity, but I’m glad I learned independence early. I screwed up a lot, but I learned from it. There was no one to bail me out.

Ingrid Schaffenburg talks about online dating and the search for chemistry.

A new blog that I started following that you should check out is The Romance Man. He’s a man who reads romance (woo-hoo!) but he also blogs about love, being married, and being a father. The stuff he writes is pretty damn funny. Here he looks at advice on how to snuggle. If you’re easily offended, you might want to skip it, but if you read Chuck Wendig or Tawna Fenske, you’ll like this guy.

Writing:

I only have one writing link this week, not because there weren’t more great posts, but because this one has a message for every writer. Tawna Fenske tells us what she learned from an 85-year-old food critic. Good stuff.

I plan to get out an enjoy my weekend. Chicago has been experiencing way warmer than normal weather (80 degrees again today!!) What plans do you have for the weekend?

Friday Favorites and Turning 40

Before I get to my mash-up of awesome links for the week, I have something to show you. I recently had a birthday and I guess it was supposed to be a big one (see the title). I’ve said it before, I’m not much for celebrating for myself, but my best friend and I got together for dinner last night (which is why this post is so late). Right after I parked my car, she caught me in the parking lot and hefted a huge basket into the back of my van. My birthday present. When I got home I spent a good 15 minutes unwrapping and laughing over 40 individual gifts. She bought me 40 things I like. Here’s a bad photo, and although you can’t see everything, you get the idea:

With all the chocolate, junk food, and alcohol, you'd never guess that she's not a writer.

I think it was the best birthday gift I’ve ever gotten. It’s not the items themselves, of course, but it’s having someone who knows you that well. I hope you all have a friend like her 🙂

On to lots of links. I’m too lazy to separate these into categories this week, since I’m  running so late and I’ll have to head out soon to pick up the kids. Trust me when I say, they’re all worth a read.

Emma Burcart describes the best relationship she ever had – back in the third grade. What I love about this post is that when we’re that young, we know what we want and what we expect, but somewhere over the years, we tend to lose some of that. Here’s to remembering our nine-year-old selves.

Linda Adams talks about the commercialization of Star Wars. Although I see her point, and maybe it has gotten out of hand, I still wouldn’t want them to stop making the toys. Everyone in my house has spent countless hours playing with Star Wars action figures.

Debra Kristi has a great post about chocolate. I love it when someone validates that chocolate is good for us. 🙂

August McLaughlin uses her father’s retirement to explore how writers should approach their dreams.

Merry Farmer continues her series on how she writes. This week, she talks about using music to set the mood and maybe offer inspiration. I’ve mention before that I created a playlist for the first time for my WIP. I’m still revising book 2 for my contract, so I haven’t gone back to my WIP in a while, but I have to admit, I wish I had a soundtrack for book 2. I miss not having specific songs to ground me in that world with those characters.

Tonya Kappes writes about how it’s important to review your goals to see how far you’ve come.

Shelli Johnson does a post about offering words of encouragement to yourself because it’s always easier to believe the bad stuff. I’ve mentioned before that I’ve taken a few classes with Lani Diane Rich and one thing she requires from her students at the end of each class is for them to announce (in all caps and tons of exclamation points) “I am a great writer!” The post reminded me of the importance of that.

Trish Loye Elliott over on Wordbitches has a post on inspiration and optimism. The part I love most is the Wordplayer’s manifesto that she took from K.M. Weiland.

Finally, Annette Gendler has a photo essay showing some great shots of Millennium Park and Crown Fountain in Chicago. I love these pictures and I had to include this because I have a scene in my book that takes place at Millennium Park.

What was the best birthday gift you ever received?

Friday Favorites – Writing and Publishing

For my Friday Favorites posts, I usually try to find a balance of fun and educational posts to offer as links. This week, however, is a little heavy on the being a writer posts. There were just too many to try to narrow them down more.

Being a writer–

Trish Loye Elliott posted 10 ways you know you’re a writer over on the Wordbitches blog. It’s funny, but oh so true. A gazillion books? Check. Carry pen and paper everywhere? Check. Talk to yourself? Check. We all know these things about ourselves, but it’s funny to see them in writing.

Merry Farmer has a post on casting your characters. I’ve talked about this before, when I wrote about creating a collage as part of my discovery writing before starting my WIP. I got so much out of it that I’m actually going to go back and create come collages for the manuscript I’m in the middle of revising. After doing a healthy edit, I discovered that during one of the many revisions, I took out every description. No one knows what any of my characters look like. I think doing the collage with help.

August McLaughlin has a great post on using deadlines to increase your productivity. Even if you don’t have a contract yet, creating reasonable deadlines for yourself helps. I’ve always done it. It also helps if you have a critique partner who can give you a kick in the pants when you fall behind your goals.

Emma Burcart has a post called Don’t Poop on My Parade, and while she wrote the post about her move to Florida, I think it definitely applies to writers. People are quick to put down what we do and try to squash our dreams with a dose of reality. I hope we can all have poop-free parades 🙂

Chuck Wendig holds nothing back, as usual, as he offers 25 things he wants to say to aspiring writers. My favorite is #8. It’s so good, I think it deserves its own quote:

I’m just going to type this out a dozen times so it’s clear: finish your shit. Finish your shit. Finish your shit.Finish your shit. Finish your shit. Finish your shit! FINISH YOUR SHIT. Finish. Your. Shit. Fiiiiniiiish yooooour shiiiiit. COMPLETO EL POOPO. Vervollständigen Sie Ihre Fäkalien! Finish your shit.

Publishing —

Emmie Mears wrote an open letter to New York. She’s writing about wanting that traditional book deal, to be able to hold a bound book in her hands. I understand this dream, as I think most writers do. The publishing world is in the middle of a whirlwind of change. Publishers either have to get on board with making changes, or they will fall apart like my beloved Borders. Many companies are. As I’ve written before, I’ve accepted a 2-book deal with Kensington for ebooks. Ebooks are the here and now, not the future, but that doesn’t meant that paper books will disappear.

Kristen Lamb writes a great post about the new publishing paradigm. She too loves New York and doesn’t want Amazon to swallow everything. No one is saying that self-publishing is bad. It is a viable route to publication. But it shouldn’t be the only route.

Just for Fun–

Jennette Powell has follow-up post one one she did last week about not finishing a book. This week, she wants to know what big name book you haven’t finished. For me, the DNF (did not finish) happened most often with classics. I was an English major and there were lots of books I was supposed to read that I couldn’t. Most British lit falls in that category. I love American lit, but I started The Great Gatsby at least 3 times and never even got to the halfway point.

Last, but certainly not least, Tiffany White has a couple of great TV posts for the week. She talks about some new and returning shows.

What’s your favorite piece of writing advice? Or which show are you most looking forward to?

Friday Favorites – One for the Money and Being a B**ch

photo courtesy of imdb.com

First, let me say that today is a gorgeous day. It’s 45 degrees in January. In Chicago. Excellent weather for my day off. Usually my day off consists of running errands I pushed off all week and catching up on housework (kind of). The piles of laundry tend to get out of hand. Anyway, today, after getting my tires rotated and before starting the laundry. I went to see One for the Money, the movie based on the Janet Evanovich book and series.

I really didn’t have high hopes for the movie. I love the books, no matter how contrived or ridiculous because I love the characters and I always laugh out loud while reading. Katherine Heigl actually was a decent Stephanie Plum. Jason O’Mara was cast as Joe Morelli. I really like Jason O’Mara, but in my head, Morelli has always been Eddie Cibrian. I understand why they wanted someone who looked different because Ranger is played by Daniel Sanjata.

Here’s the cast:

photo courtesy of bellasnovella.com

taken from google images

And here’s Eddie Cibrian

So, I think it made sense to go with someone obviously different than Sanjata, who I think is the PERFECT Ranger. It’s been a long time since I read the first book in the series, but I think the movie did a good job of getting right. The cast hits the mark. I think Grandma Mazur could’ve been played up a bit more; she didn’t seem quite crazy enough. Lula was great.

The one thing that I thought was missing was the sexual tension. I didn’t see it between Stephanie and Morelli or Stephanie and Ranger. With the movie being based on just the first book, I didn’t expect a whole lot of tension between Ranger and Stephanie, but she didn’t even seem all that attracted to him, which, hello? The man is hot. I think there should’ve been more sexual tension between Morelli and Stephanie, but I wasn’t feeling it.

Overall, I enjoyed the movie and I felt like I got my money’s worth. It did feel like I was watching a TV show, though. Again, that might be because I know there are 18 books and plots and that much more character development. I did find myself wanting to see more, like the next episode.

I am behind on my Plum reading. I have number 17 that I haven’t read yet, which means I also have 18 to read. I’ll get my Morelli and Ranger fix in paper, I guess.

On to my regular mash-up of awesome links…

I only have 4 links this week, but they are powerful. First up, for writers, it’s all about having confidence and not being afraid. If you want to write (and be published) you have to be willing to put yourself out there and that opens you up to a lot.

Tonya Kappes writes about NOT being a fearful writer.

Merry Farmer talks about how confidence is a writer’s greatest asset.

My next two posts have to do with being called a bitch and what it means. I’ve been called a bitch by men and women alike, and probably a few kids who were students. It’s never bothered me, although it probably should have. The word itself has so many different connotations that I find it hard to be bothered by it. For me, I think bitch is used most often as a way to describe an independent, opinionated woman. I’m okay with that.

Emma Burcart starts off the conversation with So You Think I’m a Bitch.

Jennifer Liberts Weinberg, the Kvetch Mom, talks about the snarkiness encountered on social media, especially when one screws up (one of my greatest fears). She questions why women choose to be bitchy towards each other. Definitely food for thought.

What are your thoughts —  on Stephanie Plum, writer confidence, or being a bitch?